Epistemics for Forensics

Roger Koppl, Robert Kurzban, Lawrence Kobilinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Forensic science error rates are needlessly high. Applying the perspective of veritistic social epistemology to forensic science could produce new institutional designs that would lower forensic error rates. We make such an application through experiments in the laboratory with human subjects. Redundancy is the key to error prevention, discovery, and elimination. In the “monopoly epistemics” characterizing forensics today, one privileged actor is asked to identify the truth. In “democratic epistemics,” several independent parties are asked. In an experiment contrasting them, democratic epistemics reduced the rate at which biased observers obscured the truth by two-thirds. These results highlight, first, the potential of “epistemic systems design,” which employs the techniques of economic systems design to address issues of veracity rather than efficiency, and second, the value of “experimental epistemology,” which employs experimental techniques in the study of science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-159
Number of pages19
JournalEpisteme
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History and Philosophy of Science

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    Koppl, R., Kurzban, R., & Kobilinsky, L. (2008). Epistemics for Forensics. Episteme, 5(2), 141-159. https://doi.org/10.3366/E1742360008000294